aboutJ KEITH VINCENT
I am currently working on two books:
Masaoka Shiki: A Life in Haiku is a collection of translations of haiku by Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). The haiku are arranged in chronological order by date of composition, and accompanied by short essays that put them into context. The idea is that you can skip around and read them on their own, or read them sequentially as chapters in the development of Shiki’s style and his understanding of what haiku can do. They also tell the story of Shiki’s many close friendships and wide social networks that helped him cope with the pain of illness and make haiku into the global genre it is today.
Shiki and Sōseki: from Haiku to Novel is an account of the close friendship between Shiki and his fellow haiku poet Natsume Sōseki (1867-1916). After Shiki’s death from tuberculosis in 1902, Sōseki went on to become Japan’s most influential novelist. The book shows how Sōseki’s sensibility as a novelist was shaped by his early practice of haiku and by his friendship with Shiki.
From 1895 to 1900, Sōseki sent 35 letters to Shiki containing over 1,400 haiku. Shiki returned these letters with comments. When he liked a poem, he marked it with a red circle. When he really liked it, he used two red circles. The two red circles on the sidebar of this website are taken from one of these manuscripts: a “double like” from Shiki to Sōseki.